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Hepatitis settlement pending in Rock Island County

Anyone who received immunizations as a result of possible exposure to hepatitis A at a McDonald’s restaurant in Milan, Ill., can make a claim in a $500,000 settlement that is pending approval in Rock Island County Circuit Court.

The settlement, titled Patterson v. JKLM, Inc. d/b/a McDonald’s, is pending in the 14th Judicial Circuit Court of Rock Island County.

A hearing will be 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16. At the hearing, the court will consider whether to grant final approval of the proposed settlement.

The plaintiff, Quad-City area resident Cody Patterson, acting on behalf of himself and others, filed the suit July 21, 2009. It names the McDonald’s at 400 W. 1st St. and the restaurant’s owner, Kevin Murphy, as defendants.

Compensation includes the cost of obtaining the shots and the value of lost time required to get the shots. The class does not include claims for those who became ill with the virus or employees of JKLM Inc.

The suit claims to represent all of those who may have contracted or have been exposed to the illness while eating at the McDonald’s in June and July. Murphy said in a statement that he didn’t learn until July 13 about hepatitis A affecting the restaurant, his employees and customers.

The suit claims Patterson ate food or drank a beverage from the restaurant eight or more times in June and July. It does not detail the extent of his illness.

When the suit was filed, attorneys estimated that the class action could reach 10,000 plaintiffs, based on the high volume of food distributed by the restaurant.

In July 2009, the Rock Island County Health Department said that people who had dined at the restaurant between June 1 and July 15, 2009, may have been exposed to hepatitis A. The health department recommended that anyone who had eaten at the restaurant between those dates obtain immunoglobulin injections, or IG shots, to prevent hepatitis A.

Patterson is seeking compensation from JKLM Inc. for everyone who allegedly was exposed to the virus and who subsequently obtained the injections at the health department clinic or a private health care provider between July 15 and Aug. 31, 2009. The health department provided free inoculations to people who ate at the restaurant from July 6-10 and July 13-14, 2009. Two employees there were confirmed as having the disease.

If the settlement is approved, the judgment will release JKLM Inc. from all claims for damages caused to all persons allegedly exposed to the hepatitis A virus while dining at the restaurant and who subsequently obtained IG shots.Craig S. Mielke of Foote, Meyers, Mielke & Flowers, of St. Charles, Ill.; and David W. Babcock of Marler Clark, LLP, PS, Seattle, Wash., are class counsel. Marler’s law firm is experienced in handling large hepatitis A exposures, including a 2007 situation involving Houlihan’s restaurant in Kane County, Ill.

If the settlement is not approved, the case will proceed as active litigation.

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